Newsletter

Tuolumne County Farm Bureau Newsletter
December,2008

President’s Message

I am writing this early on a Friday morning and have the TV on where I am listening to and periodically watching the Superior Livestock Auction. Right now they are selling heavy feeder steers/heifers (800 pounds) and it definitely shows how the world economy has affected the prices of the US beef cattle as prices are much lower than what they were three months ago. I am glad that I raise something that is a food and not in the business of selling new cars, boats or airplanes.

Watching video auctions of beef cattle are always interesting to me, not only giving me an idea of beef cattle worth, but it also give me an idea of feed conditions all over the United states and definitely reinforces to me, just how mild our California weather can be. Unfortunately, in the beef business, the price for California climate is about a negative 10 cents a pound on what we sell as well as some of the highest costs of production in the states. With all that, I am not ready to give up on our climate and move, I just hope for a bit of that badly needed precipitation.

Over the years I have heard some of the farmers of the San Joaquin Valley state that it was not that important if it rained on them or not. As a matter of fact, they were better off if it did not rain, so they would not have mildew, rot and could continue to work their ground. In a meeting yesterday, there were valley hay growers, walnut and almond growers, dairymen and even a blueberry grower. And to a single person, they all underscored how much they needed rain. Not just snow/rain in the Sierras for their snowpack, but they needed rain on their individual parcels of ground. First of all, they know the reservoir storage is extremely low and they have to leave ground fallow to divert what little water they have to their more expensive cropland, mostly trees. Second, that water, if available, is expensive and direct rain water is free. Right now, California Agriculture is totally on the same ship, all looking for some inclement weather.

Next wee, myself and a few of hyour County Farm Bureau representatives head to the California Farm Bureau annual conference in Burlingame. With mixed emotions, I will attend and hopefully work to improve the situation of Tuolumne County Farm Bureau and its members. I mention mixed emotions, as I know it is important to be there, to discuss the issues that are important to agriculture in our state, to exchange ideas and information with members of other counties and bring that information back to you. However, I also have plenty to do at home and would much rather be there. Bottom line, I will be in Burlingame and next month will report back to you.

As for this newsletter, it is not only my first, but our first to be placed on our web site. You may have heard that it cost us a good deal to have this news letter printed each month and sent to you. Consequently, please advise our office if you would be satisfied with only receiving the newsletter via email or if you wish to continue having it postal mailed to you. The address is tcfarmbureau.net.

Also, if you or your business would like to advertise in the newsletter, please contact the Farm Bureau office. We hope to get the advertising off the ground as early as next month’s issue. We have over 500 members that will receive this newsletter so it may be worth your time and money.

Even I may advertise for sale some of my new post holes. I think I can sell them for about 5 bucks each.

Happy Holidays
Dick Gaiser, President

FARM WATER GROUP QUESTIONS REPORT

“The report—”More with Less”—may have some beneficial aspects to it but it poses a serious threat to California’s family farmers.It calls on our farmers to embrace new technology regarding their water use.But farmers are already doing this…between 1967 and 2000, farmers increased food and fiber production by 89 percent with an increase of only 2 percent in applied water.

“The report further asserts that California water rights, some of which have served the people of California for over 100 years, are not being applied correctly and that water is not being used beneficially. I don’t understand how growing food for people to eat is not a beneficial use of water.

“The report also calls for farmers to change from one crop to another because of water use.It is important to remember that farmers choose which crop to plant based on what consumers are buying.

“If farmers decrease their alfalfa acreage, as called for in the report, then California’s dairy industry will be forced to rely upon thousands of truckloads of feed from other states in order to feed their herds.This scenario certainly goes against what the Pacific Institute has called for in other documents relating to protection of the environment.

“Telling a farmer to grow one crop instead of another to save water is the same as telling a restaurant to become a shoe store for the same reason.It just doesn’t make sense.”

Farm Water Perspective
California Farm Water Coalition

5999 Freeport Blvd.
Sacramento, CA95822
(916) 391-5030
www.farmwater.org

FRUSTRATION LEADS TO LAWSUITS

By Mike Wade, Executive Director
California Farm Water Coalition

The frustration over a State agency ignoring scientific evidence and instead issuing an order that could shut off more than a million acre-feet of water to 25 million Californians has prompted three lawsuits.

On Nov. 14, the California Fish & Game Commission ordered a further reduction in the amount of Delta water flowing through State and federal pumps to protect the longfin smelt, on top of existing court-ordered protections for delta smelt and in the midst of one of the worst droughts in California history.This action was taken despite scientific evidence that clearly points out the pumps are not a threat to the minnow-like fish.In fact, studies by the California Department of Fish & Game clearly show that longfin smelt do not live anywhere near the pumps.

DFG’s studies determined that the number of longfin smelt caught in the pumps during December 1997 was only an estimated 0.6 percent of the longfin smelt’s total population.In other years that number was zero…as in none, nada, zippo!In 2002 the numbers were only 0.0017 percent from March through June.

How can these numbers be brushed aside by decision-makers, especially when their own agency is doing the research?Additional research referenced in the past by DFG officials points to invasive species, toxics, predation, ocean conditions and a changing food web as the more likely culprits that are threatening longfin smelt.

The three lawsuits, by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and Westlands Water District, Kern County Water Agency and the State Water Contractors, aim to overturn the Commission’s order.This capricious action by the commission was best described in press releases announcing the lawsuits—

“The Department of Fish and Game’s plan represents an abuse of power and a failure of good science and common sense.” —Jean P. Sagouspe, farmer and president of Westlands Water District

“…the new regulations expand the protections at an unreasonable cost to the public.” —Kern County Water Agency

“Given the miniscule benefit to the fish, there appears to be something wrong with this picture.” —Laura King Moon, assistant general manager of the State Water Contractors

I would add that the decision made by the Fish & Game Commission is another example of a State agency that is running amok without any regard for the people of California, who will pay if this order is allowed to stand

ADVERTISING

If you or your business would like to advertise in the newsletter, please contact the Farm Bureau office. We hope to get the advertising off the ground as early as next month’s issue. We have over 500 members that will receive this newsletter so it may be worth your time and money.

NEWS RELEASE FROM C.F.B.F

STANISLAUS COUNTY FARMER WINS STATEWIDE SPEAKING COMPETITION

Effective discussion of ways to help farm groups develop new, young leaders led to victory for a Stanislaus County farmer in the annual Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion meet. The competition occurred during the California Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th Annual Meeting in Burlingame this week.

Jake Wenger of Modesto emerged as the winner after four rounds of competition. In the final round, he came out on top while addressing the question of how Farm Bureau can involve new leaders developed through its young-farmer program. Wenger spoke of starting early, with students involved in 4-H and FFA youth programs, and taking their interest in agriculture to the next level.

“We have all of this involvement in 4-H and FFA, even from non-ag circles,” Wenger said. “What happens to those people? A majority of them don’t go into agriculture. Those people could be some of our strongest supporters of agriculture.”

Wenger works on a fourth-generation family farm that grows walnuts and almonds, along with his two brothers and his father, CFBF First Vice President Paul Wenger.

As the winner, Wenger earned a Dodge pickup valued at $30,000, plus $4,000 in cash prizes from sponsors at Dodge, Bank of America, California Farm Credit Associations, the Nationwide family of companies and State Compensation Insurance Fund. He will represent CFBF in the national Discussion Meet competition at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in San Antonio next month.

Meghan Dresselhaus of San Bernardino County was named first runner-up in the competition; Tyler Blagg of Sacramento County and Bradley Pinnell of Amador County were also finalists.

In the separate Collegiate Discussion Meet, a student from California State University, Fresno, won the competition while discussing how the nation’s aging infrastructure should be improved to accommodate transportation of farm goods. The winner, Jackie Mundt, studies agricultural communications at CSU Fresno and earns a $500 prize from the California Farm Bureau.

First runner up was Fresno State student Joel Saldana Jr. of Firebaugh; second runner-up was Daniel Bays of Patterson, a student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; third runner up was Cal Poly student Mark Diener of Five Points.

CSU Fresno won the team competition.

The California Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest farm organization, works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of 91,000 members.

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